Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for August...Featuring Ostra's Culinaria Restaurant Week Menu

We're back from our weekend in New Orleans, but I'm not back in the kitchen cooking just yet! This week is Culinaria Restaurant Week here in San Antonio. Restaurants all over the city are offering diners multi-course $15 lunch menus and $35 dinner menus. Michael and I visited Ostra, one of the participating restaurants, last night to sample their special three-course Culinaria menu. Ostra is located inside the Mokara Hotel and Spa, right on the Riverwalk. That makes it a fantastic dining spot for both local residents and visitors! As an added plus, they make parking easy for people who drive down to their Riverwalk location -- they validate the hotel's valet parking. Simply drop your car, go inside the hotel, and take the elevator down to Riverwalk level.

Michael and I dined with Culinaria President/CEO Suzanne Taranto Etheredge and Media Coordinator Evie Reichel, and they were fabulous hosts. I ask you this: what's better than spending an evening eating wonderful food with fantastic people who share your love of good food, good wine, and travel? For background, Culinaria is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to promoting San Antonio as a premier wine and food destination while fostering community growth and enrichment and supporting local students in culinary arts and food related aid organizations.

Ostra specializes in seafood, and it does it very well! Shortly after being seated, we were greeted by Mokara Food & Beverage Manager Michael McClellan, who brought a round of champagne to our table. Not long after the bubbles arrived, Sous Chef Catherine Gonzalez brought us sampler plates featuring some of the appetizers from their raw bar. The appetizers were as delicious to eat as they were pretty to look at. On the left of the plate is spicy-tangy Texas Redfish Ceviche, in the middle is a Miniature Tuna Taco, and on the right is Crab 'Louie,' served in endive. All were delicious, but the tuna taco was an especially pleasant surprise to me. I'm not normally a fan of raw tuna, but this crunchy little taco was AMAZING!

A sampling of Ostra's Raw Bar, from left: Texas Redfish Ceviche, Miniature Tuna Taco, and Crab 'Louie'.

Then, it was time for the first course from the Culinaria menu: Baby Spinach, Frisee and Radicchio Salad with Brown Butter Texas Pecans, Apple, Cheddar and Sherry Vinaigrette. This salad was so good! The greens were tender, and the apple and cheddar paired perfectly. I loved the dressing -- it was sweet, tart, and creamy. 

This salad has it all: crispy apple, crunchy glazed pecans, sharp cheddar, tender greens, and
a creamy sweet-tart dressing!

The main course for the Culinaria menu was Blackened Texas Redfish & Converse Gristmill Polenta and Wilted Spinach. The fish was cooked to perfection...perfectly spiced and moist and sweet on the inside! The grits were creamy and flavored with dill, which really complimented the flavor of the fish without overwhelming. 

The main course was Texas redfish seasoned with spices and seared in a hot pan. It was served
over creamy grits flavored with dill.

We were getting pretty full by then, but The Weekend Gourmet always makes sure to save a little bit of room for dessert...and WHAT a dessert it was! Tres Leche Cake with Pineapple, Kiwi, and Mango. This tres leche had a slight twist: one of the milks used was coconut milk, which gave a tropical feel to the entire plate. Especially when paired with the fruits and some raspberry-basil coulis. What took this dessert right over the top was the dome of light-as-air cheesecake mousse on top. Mercy, was this dessert good!

The perfect ending to a great meal: Tres leche cake served with pineapple, kiwi, and mango. Paired
with raspberry-basil coulis and a dome of cheesecake mousse.

One of the best things about Culinaria Restaurant Week is that it gives you a chance to try a new restaurant...and at a reduced cost! For $15 at lunch or $35 at dinner, you get at least three courses. Since I don't make it down to the Riverwalk area all that often these days, I somehow had not heard of Ostra before dining there last night. Now that I've had their food? I will DEFINITELY go back...and I will tell everybody I know how great it is! 

For my Central Texas readers, Culinaria Restaurant Week is going on until this Saturday, August 25th. For a list of participating restaurants and their special Culinaria menus, click here. There's a wide range of cuisines in all parts of the city to choose from, so you're bound to find a new place to check out...or an old favorite to visit again for a reduced price.

Ostra on Urbanspoon


  1. What a fun restaurant week Wendy, your dinner looks amazing, I think I'd be eating out every night during this extravaganza!

    1. After our food gorging in NOLA last weekend, we had to pace ourselves! We hit two restaurant week menus...great bargains for only $35!!

  2. Looks like a great meal! I want some of the dessert!

    1. It was one of the best desserts I've had in recent memory...the coconut milk gave the tres leche a tropical flavor!

  3. What a fun date night! You always have me wanting to plan a return trip to San Antonio. It has been three years since we have been there and that was just passing through on our way to Houston.

    1. Debra --
      You have to come to SA...I will help you find the best places to eat, and I'll even join you for dinner if you like!


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